Deception & Truth

Storytelling is the primary role of the artist. Stories don’t have to be factual to be true. But to understand the truth of a story, you’ve got to be present to it. That time you spent in a theatre, literally crying at the death of a character, or when you were deep in a novel that made you cringe with a character’s social ineptitude, or the anger you felt while playing a video game when some ruthless villain destroyed your avatar’s home; these are all examples of being present to the truth of a story. Teachers call it suspension of disbelief. It’s the moment when the artist engages with the audience. Like the “final frontier” the exchange between artist and audience is the final collaboration. An audience member accepts that the artist’s work is truth wrapped in illusion. The stage is not grandma’s kitchen, the actors are not related to one another, the dancers are not drowning in yards of fabric, and the fabric is not a river. ALL performance is metaphor. Despite the deception, artists have a responsibility to tell stories honestly. You, as the author, composer, or choreographer, create the world of the story, or interpret an existing world. The world you create has rules. Your characters must abide by these rules. Without them the stakes are often too low to experience any meaningful truth. When characters bump up against the rules of your world, audiences suspend their disbelief. In other words, audience members become present to the moment of conflict. This can’t happen if your characters skirt the rules. Even when you bend your rules, it can yank a person right out of the moment. So remember to stick to the rules, but not necessarily the facts.

Me and Jean Luc
This is not the real Patrick Stewart. Egads! I’ve been deceived!